Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Nothing conjures images of checked gingham, wicker picnic baskets and Fourth of July fireworks like a perfectly succulent fried chicken drumstick.
Biting through the crispy, salty, perfectly juicy leg is to remember everything that’s right with Southern food. So maybe it’s bad for your arteries, but it sure is good for your soul.
I’m pretty sure there are as many ways to fry a chicken as there are to skin a cat. And I can promise you that every Southerner thinks no one fries chicken like their mama, or in my case, my grandmama. And that’s okay. It doesn’t matter if you brine or don’t brine, deep fry or shallow fry, use salt and pepper or a spice mix. If it’s perfect for you, it’s perfect.
When I decided to write this post, it really struck me how long it had been since I’d properly fried a chicken. In the day and age of LDL, HDL, good cholesterol and bad, I don’t even consider frying food in my home. And yet, in the same breath, I sure as heck have had KFC more than a few times in the last 10 years. I’ll tell you – at least if you’re frying at home you know exactly what went into that chicken, when it was cooked, and where the chicken came from.
I’m not saying you should fry a chicken every week, but then, if I’m honest, no one should be eating at KFC once a week either! Instead, make this a once-a-month Sunday supper. A special treat to conjure up a simpler time.
Deep frying chicken is a step-by-step process that requires some waiting, much like baking a cake and icing it. You must let the chicken rest in brine, then rest again before frying. It may seem silly and over complicated, but it really will produce the tastiest fried chicken. And since you’re only doing this once in a great while, shouldn’t you go all out?
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe
1 whole Chicken, cut up or approximately 8-10 thighs and drumsticks
2 cups Buttermilk
Season-All Salt or Lawry’s Seasoning
Fresh Cracked Pepper
All purpose Flour
Cooking oil suitable for frying: peanut or canola
Place chicken (preferably skin-on, but not required) on a plate. Season liberally with kosher salt, and pepper. Move chicken to a gallon sized ziploc bag.
Pour buttermilk into ziploc bag to cover chicken pieces. Seal and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but preferably 24 hours.
Place 2-3 inches of oil in a dutch oven and heat oil to 325F. When oil is nearing this temperature, begin to prepare the chicken.
Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Discard brine. Create an assembly line with a plate of flour and a plate for chicken to rest. First, sprinkle the chicken liberally with McCormick’s Season-All on both sides. Dip the chicken in the flour, covering completely, then sprinkle lightly with Season-All again.
Place 3-4 pieces of chicken in the oil at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
Overcrowding causes oil temperature to drop too quickly, which will result in overly greasy chicken without crisp skin. Fry the pieces for 10-12 minutes on each side, keeping the temperature steady at 325F. When done, remove with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel lined baking dish.
Place in a 200F oven to keep warm until all pieces are fried.
Serve on Sunday afternoon with lemonade, potato salad, and Gaga’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake for dessert.
My favorite way to eat fried chicken is cold, straight from the fridge. But my husband can’t abide it – his must be piping hot. I’d love to hear your favorite fried chicken memories. Did your grandma make it for picnics? Do you like to eat cold fried chicken? What’s your favorite side dish to serve with it?